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  #1  
Old 10-21-2017, 09:50 PM
DrDrift DrDrift is offline
 
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Central Florida
Posts: 16
Default RV Commuter

I'm looking into buying an RV for commuting to an airport about 100nm away. I have so many questions about this ambition and I would appreciate some insight.

I'll apologize now for the long-windedness of this post.

1 - WHICH RV? - For all my flying career, nearly every flight has been in a rental airplane packed with people. I love flying alone, but I don't get to do it too often. In the case of this commuting, I might need to fly quite a bit alone. The "aircraft choice guide" on Van's site is great (and honest), and for the first time, I really only need one seat. I would also love to go as fast as possible without consuming a huge amount of fuel, and ideally in an aircraft that is cheap to buy and operate.

It seems like the RV-3 is the perfect choice for a commuter aircraft for me, but I'll happily take dissenting opinions.

2 - VALUE? - Assuming the RV-3 is the right choice, what's a reasonable price to pay for one? Does the value change dramatically with an 0-320 compared to an 0-290? How much should age of the airframe matter?

3 - LIGHTING - Many RV-3s that I've seen for sale are daytime VFR ships. My flying will be before and after a workday, so in the winter I will want landing and navigation lights. I've been through several threads on wingtip vs leading light mounting and HID vs halogen. I'm curious to know if anyone has experience retrofitting lights on an already-built RV-3. Is it relatively easy to run wires through the wing/tail? What's a good choice for equipment? There are some COTS units or a few DIY approaches.

4 - FLIGHT PROFICIENCY - I have my tailwheel endorsement, earned in a Citabria, and some time in Decathlon, Pitts, and Cub. I've never flown an RV-4 (or RV-anything), so the idea of transitioning to a single-seat RV-3 is both exciting and slightly daunting. What's a good way to do this? Should I try to get RV-4 time? Any suggestions how I could find an RV-4 owner that's willing to let me get a few minutes of stick time?

5 - PRE-BUY INSPECTION - Assuming I find an RV-3 I want, what's a good approach for a pre-buy? How can I be sure the CN-1 / CN-2 spar mods were done (correctly)? Should I bring an A&P with me, or is it possible to run adequate checks myself?

6 - INSTRUMENTATION - What's a good choice for supplementing the sometimes-sparse instrument panel in daytime VFR RV-3s? A friend of mine suggesting getting a Garmin G5. I'd likely end up using my phone/tablet with Avare for navigation. What else should I consider adding? I'm obviously torn between keeping the aircraft light and adding useful and safety-enhancing features.

7 - LAST MILE PROBLEM - This whole notion of commuting with an RV comes both from the romantic notion of using an airplane regularly, and the practicality of cutting a 2+ hour drive to almost 1 hour. Actually making it door to door in 1 - 1.3 hours depends very much on the transportation provisions on both ends of the flight. For people who commute with airplanes, how do you solve the last mile problem? Do you keep a beater (or spare) car parked at the destination airport? Do you use an electric bicycle, or just call a taxi/Uber? I don't need to go very far (~5 miles), but it's long enough that I need to figure out something reliable.

8 - PARKING - Is it ok to leave an RV outside for a few hours, or even permanently? I'm not positive that I'll have a hangar available on either side. If I have to leave it outside, can I use just a canopy cover, or should I get a whole-aircraft cover?


Thanks for the insight!
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  #2  
Old 10-22-2017, 12:06 AM
SteveT SteveT is offline
 
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Scottsdale, AZ
Posts: 18
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This may help you answer question #1

https://www.vansaircraft.com/public/rv-which.htm
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  #3  
Old 10-22-2017, 12:25 AM
MercFE MercFE is offline
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Maple Valley, WA
Posts: 271
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Everything you want to do is possible... A 3 wouldn't be bad... I would say look into 6's as well, as they can be a great value.

As for prebuys and other RV related info... Looks like you're would be close to Jesse Saint and Saint Aviation. Highly recommend him for all your RV maintenance and build needs!
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  #4  
Old 10-22-2017, 12:56 AM
BobTurner BobTurner is offline
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Livermore, CA
Posts: 6,012
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If you want to do this because itís fun, then go for it.
But if you really think youíll save a lot of time....try it.
Rent a plane, park it at the airport. Go home. Start the clock.
First get a briefing. Donít want to bust a TFR, or fly and find the airport is closed.
Drive to the airport, park. Untie the plane. Add a few minutes to remove and stow the rain tarp. Preflight the plane. Get the atis. Start the plane. Taxi to run up area. Run up. Go thru takeoff check list. Call the tower (and/or check traffic).Takeoff and fly. Land, taxi, tiedown. Install rain tarp. Add 5 minutes to get to your parked car, another 10 to drive to work.
Whatís the total time? If youíre happy with the answer, move forward. But I think youíll find all those little things add up.
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  #5  
Old 10-22-2017, 12:56 AM
Bevan Bevan is offline
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: BC
Posts: 1,597
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My opinion is a 2-seat RV would be more practical for your purposes. As previously stated, an RV6 would be a good value and many to choose from.

I know a couple pilots who commute and they keep a beater in the tie down spot at the destination. Double check with airport management if this is allowed where you are. You want something reliable enough that you can drive it all the way back if need be (weather, mechanical issue etc.).

Bevan.
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  #6  
Old 10-22-2017, 01:01 AM
Bevan Bevan is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BobTurner View Post
If you want to do this because it’s fun, then go for it.
But if you really think you’ll save a lot of time....try it.
Rent a plane, park it at the airport. Go home. Start the clock.
First get a briefing. Don’t want to bust a TFR, or fly and find the airport is closed.
Drive to the airport, park. Untie the plane. Add a few minutes to remove and stow the rain tarp. Preflight the plane. Get the atis. Start the plane. Taxi to run up area. Run up. Go thru takeoff check list. Call the tower (and/or check traffic).Takeoff and fly. Land, taxi, tiedown. Install rain tarp. Add 5 minutes to get to your parked car, another 10 to drive to work.
What’s the total time? If you’re happy with the answer, move forward. But I think you’ll find all those little things add up.
Great advice but sometimes 100 miles can take a long time by car if the highways don't line up or like in my neck of the woods, a gov't ferry is part of the land based travel scheme. 50 miles here is 4-5 hours by car/ferry but only 25 min by RV plus another hour for flight planning, pre-flight checks etc.
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Vinyl Wrapped Exterior
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Located in western Canada

Last edited by Bevan : 10-22-2017 at 01:03 AM.
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  #7  
Old 10-22-2017, 06:54 AM
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catmandu catmandu is offline
 
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I wholeheartedly endorse your proposal, it is exactly why I bought my RV, and then the contract promptly got cancelled (sorry, honey! ). I would not forgo the -4 or the -6, your purchase market will be larger (and, thus, your resale market).

We do the same mission while visiting family on the other side of the DC Metro area. The mental aspects of flying vs. driving in traffic make the RV the preferred method, even though the door to door time is similar.
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  #8  
Old 10-22-2017, 07:04 AM
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FORANE FORANE is online now
 
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Location: East TN
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I have commuted by plane for a decade but my commute is weekly, not daily. As has been stated, you may not save a ton of time but you will likely be much less aggravated at the hassles of driving. The tight panel space on a 3 you mention I see as a safety issue. You will encounter weather and depending on your go/no go decisions may get you killed without good training, experience, and instrumentation that takes panel space. I would even say a good autopilot is mandatory to your mission. Yes, you will need a car at both airports.
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  #9  
Old 10-22-2017, 07:33 AM
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Ironflight Ironflight is offline
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Location: Dayton, NV
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It's not a bad idea at all, but as others have pointed out, there can be hidden limitations and issues. In addition to a few other recommendations I'd say you should study the weather at both ends of your commute for a month, at the times you plan to fly. Florida is known for lots of moisture in the air, and that can affect how often you have to drive anyway. Teh Texas Gulf Coast is similar (but not quite as wet), and Louise used to commute from our airpark home south of Houston to her office at College Station. We left a car there, so it was a five minuted drive to her office. This worked much of the time, but she didn't HAVE to be in the office most of the time, so if ther weather was bad, she worked from home. And if she had to drive, it was a LONG trip (through Houston).

Check your weather for awhile and keep track of the Go/NoGo ratio.
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Last edited by Ironflight : 10-22-2017 at 08:17 AM.
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  #10  
Old 10-22-2017, 07:46 AM
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Captain_John Captain_John is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: KPYM
Posts: 2,670
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Whoah!

There is absolutley no reason to do this in the first place!

I use my RV often to shorten my commute to my house in Maine from Massachusetts and that is a much longer drive than your proposed run. It turns a six hour drive into a one hour flight. To have it exclusively for that is absurd. In fact, owning an airplane is absurd in the first place. There is no better way to waste money than owning an airplane! However, maybe that is why we like it in the first place?

Buy an airplane if you want one. Don't try to justify it. A car is always cheaper and more reliable.

The plane is just cooler!

CJ
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